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April 26, 2006



The real cost of a UAV
In addition to their utility, UAVs are particularly attractive because of their relatively low cost, especially when compared to that of piloted aircraft. Developmental costs for UAVs are about the same as those for a similar piloted aircraft, but procurement costs are substantially less. In FY 2003, the government purchased 25 Predator UAVs for $139.2 million ($5.6 million each), and in FY year 2004, it purchased 16 Predators for $210.1 million ($13.1 million each). The FY 2005 budget includes the purchase of nine Predators for $146.6 million ($16.3 million each). (The increases in per-unit cost reflect the arming of more Predators with Hellfire missiles.) Although UAVs are unlikely to completely replace piloted aircraft, a Predator UAV costs a fraction of a tactical fighter aircraft such as an F-15 or F-22, with unit costs of $55 million and $257 million, respectively. O&M costs for UAVs are also expected to be less than for piloted aircraft.

Now lets do the math: CAP=400 aircraft, cost 24 million per year. One UAV 16.3 million.



Math is fun. (Although I didn't think so in high school.)

For the direct cost of the ONE broken UAV on the border, 6.5 million, we could have purchased a FLEET of 33.3 Cessna 172's at $195,000 each.

Using a fleet of 33 aircraft based near the border, we could have rotated in volunteer pilots and observers to crew them, and maintained air coverage over the border with panache and elan!

(Note to serious minded people: Use of French words in this post does not indicate support for France, French-Canadian sovereignty, or the use of berets by Civil Air Patrol personnel. Profssional internet poster on a closed site. Kids, don't try ths at home. Your results may vary.)


Yes, yes, yes, for the monetry cost of an UAV you can have a so many CAPpers overhead swarming like mosquitos, but then, based on the sensitive nature of some of these SUAV, VUAV missions, that of _surveillance_ & reconnaissance....

I know that there is much rumbling in the area of changing rules of engagement, kumana matata, I mean, posse comitatus, where military is not supposed to conduct law enforcement prossecutions or civil criminal court investigations or snooping...

...I know what some of you are going to say: "That's where we come in, we're not real military, we're civilian. We're not under orders, we're para-military, like we can choose to accept any mission or tell them to fly a kite, like mercenaries, except we don't get paid to wear these uniforms; we can do it!! We are part of America's Freedom Corps for heaven's sake. (Did I ever tell you they make good sake in heaven?) We can do the military's bidding in these grey areas of privacy, law enforcement and surveillance!

Therein lies the pricelessness of the Predator! In the fields of Border Patrol, Homeland Security, Customs, Imigration, ATF, etc., once reconnaissance becomes surveillance, the assets conducting such missions are seen as snitches by the enemas of the law and notional securitie.

...and snitches are shot down! OK, dissabled by kinetic means.

Sure, with CAP we can have a force multiplier by swarming the Aera of Interest like mosquitoes for the cost of a UAV.

But at what price a human life?? Is that a mission you wish to accept ye volunteer airmen of the relatively friendly skies??


"OK, but some naval militia do accept such missions, and so do the Coast Guard Auxiliary with their pledges and Maritime Domain Awareness Missions; so, why can't we as US Air Force Auxiliarist fall in and do so in kind and join our brethren in missions?"

Because a little know secret about these other shades of Auxiliaries (Non-CAP, that is) is that they are under UCMJ at the drop of a hat!! That is not in the by-laws of the Civil Air Patrol (non-proffit) Corporation. Nowhere is UCMJ anywhere near the real of a Senior Member, unless they are already members of the Guard, Reserve, or simultaneously active duty in the services. Now THERE'S an Idea! ;-)

So, do you, Senior Airman, wish to accept to e under UCMJ????


Oh, but that brings me back to the friendly area of kumana matata, I mean, Posse Comitatus, if said other folks are already performing surveilance and they are under UCMJ, might they be overstepping this statute?

Oh well. Perhaps someone very, very, very high can shed some light on this subject.

In the mean time, remember, UAVs save HUMINT, I mean, they also save human lives, at at what cost? PRICELESS!

This is Oilygarch, Over-


OTOH, if CAP would like to have UAVs....

...I can hook you up.

Romour has it, actually the cat is outta the bag for a while, "real" service pilots HATE flying UAVs. They feel like they've done somethnig wrong and were put on a time-out!

This has left the services to scramble, not even for warrant ocifers, but E-5s and above. Yess, lowering the bar and categorising the MOS or AFSC as one for the enlisted ranks. Only minimum qualifiactions sought are that of single engine prop job pilot.

With that in mind.... *trumpets announce* *TATATATATAAA* *Civil Air Patrol to the Rescue!* -& that can even e part of the Cadet Program as an optional career track for which advanced placement in the military, Coast Guard or Agencies could be arranged with just a little smoke-filled room conferencing...

And SMs could aso be operators.

With this being a Specialty within the Pilot Specialty Track it woud further reduce the cost of UAVs if thesew were to be operated by volunteers, yet with said volunteers, and due to the types of missions UAVs do, and once Posse Comitatus issues are ironed out, there would be a much lesser concern with loss of life.


This is Oilygarch, Out!


Yo! Oily G!

Cool postings, Brother.

I'm sure not "Very high" in the organization, but let me try to sort through what you are posting here, and we'll see if we can formulate one of our usual, brilliant plans that we can talk about over a cyber-beer.

Yes, losing a Predator is not as bad as losing a pilot. But, and I don't know why the P fell from the sky, but just maybe having a pilot on board might have prevented that. If the Mexicans are shooting at us, then we have to play by WAY different rules, but I'll assume for the time being that the loss was accidental.

OK, Two questions are implied in your post.

1. Is CAP included as part of the Air Force to the extent that our operations are governed by the Pussy Communist Act?

Answer: What we used to call the Standard Army Answer: Depends upon the situation.

IF CAP is called up by the USAF, acting as a Auxiliary of the USAF, performing a mission that the USAF is supposed to be doing but is having us instead, then YES. We are part of the USAF and would fall under the PC Act.

BUT, If we are being called up by CAP to fly on behalf of the Border Patrol, based on a Memo of Undestanding, and acting as a federally-chartered corporation and flying service, then NO. We are an extension of the Border Patrol.

But, whoa and wait. Since CAP will be reimbursed for the flight hours, unless the mission is a "Search and Location" mission, then the flight is a commercial one, and you better have commercial paper and a class 2 medical in your zipper-suit pocket or the FAA will come around your house in the middle of the night and take you away.

CAP regulations are MORE restrictive, saying that we can't do certain law enforcement things, but we can do others, like fly drug agents around looking for dope fields. Our regulations, though, can be changed quicker than you can say "Rip off your wing patches, boys and girls."

So... I think it is interesting the FAA's choice of words in THEIR regs... "Search and Location," not "Search and Rescue."

IF we were to be assigned the mission of border patrol, would we be "Searching" for the "Location" of Wetbacks? Hmmmm.....

I don't think the UCMJ has much to do with anything, at least not in this context.

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